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Taxes and potholes, gay marriage, guns in public places, and more 

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Taxing issues

Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority has been collecting a 1-cent sales tax since 2005. The problem: Only 35 percent goes to road maintenance. This allocation should be amended to 100 percent for the next five years, maintaining what we have rather than new construction that can wait.

Colorado Springs' combined sales tax rate is 7.63 percent, higher than 65 percent of Colorado's cities. The proposed 0.62 percent additional sales tax will bring the sales tax to 8.25 percent, higher than 85 percent of Colorado's cities.

With a new mayor and two new City Council members, I expected creative solutions to our deteriorating roads, not a tax increase.

Why ask the voters to allow in excess of $2 million to be spent on trails when the survey told the mayor and Council of our road priority? How can the mayor find millions for stormwater but not street repair? Why not combine Parks and Rec. with the Street Division and efficiently use employees where needed? Why are we weekly mowing and trimming parkways when two feet away we have potholes?

Since Memorial Hospital was leased to a nonprofit, the millions received should be used for improvements to infrastructure and not a foundation. We need a budget that creates reserves for emergencies. We need a petition to amend the PPRTA tax to be spent 100 percent for maintenance rather than a tax hike.

Amend PPRTA, vote NO on a tax increase and make the mayor and City Council listen to us!

— Dean Miller

Colorado Springs

Political influence

Another soggy column by John Hazlehurst ("Lessons still unlearned," City Sage, July 8) and no great irony that Hazlehurst is the one that isn't learning.

To his credit, he finally adds "politicians" to the list of problems that cripple Colorado Springs, but listing Focus on the Family does nothing except reveal his anti-religion bias.

If you haven't been following Hazlehurst, you should know your "unlearned lesson" is that higher taxes are the quickest way to fix everything that's wrong with the city. This is the lesson that Hazlehurst still hasn't learned. Out-of-control budgets and constant tax increases scare away employers, which after all, pay employees that increase the tax base and net income to the city. Duh.

Mayor John Suthers said in a Pam Zubeck story: "losing a sales tax vote early in my term could be the end of my effectiveness" and he is correct. Both he and Council will be lame ducks for the balance of their term. Another lesson for Hazlehurst: It is not whether voters "like" Mayor Suthers, it is whether the city government, as a whole, can restore trust after two decades of malfeasance. A quick-and-dirty sales tax demand argues that it has not.

Last term, Mayor Steve Bach harped endlessly on "City for Champions" while the rest of us were watching our roads steadily deteriorate.

It is not the "Brucies" or Focus on the Family holding up Hazlehurst's utopia. It is the fact that previous mayors and councils have wasted much of the money we gave them on useless "do-gooder" and "job creation" projects, with nothing but potholes to show for it.

— Michael Lowery

Colorado Springs

Let's be accurate

Duane Slocum, your conjured-up unqualified statistic that "2 percent voiced their joy over the Supreme Court decision re: marriage" ("Apocalypse now," Letters, July 15), is exceptionally inaccurate. The recent USA Today/Suffolk Poll has found that 51 percent favor the court's ruling constitutionally protecting same-sex marriage.

But alas, traditionalists have a hard time accepting any form of change, even if it is about protecting individual civil rights from the tyranny of a prejudicial, vocal minority. The same poll found that 49 percent of Republicans say officials who oppose same-sex unions should take steps to resist the court's ruling. This was similar to the sentiment during our youth with court-ordered desegregation, do you remember?

You equated the false premise that loving, same-sex families will somehow cause "the definition of family to crumble into the dust" — hogwash! In my 58 years I have found that the elderly commonly make sweeping pronouncements that society is going to crumble whenever social change occurs, be it the end of slavery, or women's right to vote, school desegregation, interracial marriage, openly gays/lesbians in the military and now it is same-sex marriage. What is really crumbling is the institution to discriminate against LGBT persons.

Your leap suggesting this is leading to the Apocalypse I hope was merely a liberal use of literary techniques gone amok. However, if you had suggested that global climate change is providing the waves for the Four Horseman to ride upon bringing about "rain, fires, floods, [and] earthquakes," I might have taken your warning more seriously.

— Bob Nemanich

Colorado Springs

The court's role

Mr. Hightower's editorial ("Thumbing their noses at equality," LowDown, July 8) was right on, but I would like to take the conversation a step further: Everyone is focused on the Supreme Court ruling, with rhetoric and responses discussing the ruling in terms of "redefining marriage" and "marriage equality." However, I personally view the ruling this way:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

It would be within the province of the SCOTUS to ensure that ALL Americans are treated equally and are permitted to define their happiness (kinship, relationships, family and marriage) for themselves. SCOTUS is NOT "redefining" marriage for anyone and is NOT forcing any one definition on any one person. On the contrary, the SCOTUS is protecting the rights of American citizens from all walks of life and of all belief systems to define these things for their own lives, and are ensuring that one person cannot define these for another person.

In other words, ordinary Americans nationwide have defined marriage and family for themselves, and the Supreme Court simply ensures OUR rights, as stated in the Declaration of Independence, to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

— Renee L. Ten Eyck

Fountain

The power of fear

I had to feel sorry for that fellow who is so afraid of terrorism that he can't leave his house without his gun to protect him ("Sky Sox and guns," Letters, July 8). Dude, you have more chance of being killed by a meteor, so please don't leave home without also making sure you are wearing your tinfoil hat.

Better yet, just don't leave home at all. The rest of us will be safer.

—Gina Douglas

Colorado Springs

Corruption rules

The Colorado Board of Health decided to completely ignore the findings of its own scientific panel, and the testimony of 98 percent of the people testifying, and refused to add PTSD to the list of accepted conditions for medical marijuana in Colorado.

The only conclusion I can come to is that this board is completely corrupt, bought and paid for by Big Pharma.

May the deaths of all those who commit suicide because they did not have access to the proper strains of medical marijuana be upon their heads. Forever.

— Thomas McCullock

Denver

Nation divided

I feel compelled to respond to Rev. Arthur B. Carter Jr.'s article ("Let's rise above violence," Your Turn, July 8). There will be some who dismiss my letter simply because I am not black, and can "never understand the black experience." There is truth to that. However, I don't consider myself a "person not of color"; I am a concerned American citizen.

Rev. Carter failed to mention that one of the recent AME church fires was caused by lightning. He also failed to mention the terrible statistics of black-on-black crime in major American cities.

Of course, any intentional burning of any place of worship is a terrible crime. America is a violent country, and we have a complicated history of discrimination, including slavery, but we are a human experiment for freedom in progress. I still believe this nation has offered people around the world the best hope for a free life.

President Obama has done what he promised; he has "transformed America." Unfortunately, I believe he has helped transform this nation into the most racially divided country in decades. I will not accept that America is nothing more than a country of violence and hate; I refer to the Rev. Martin Luther King: Judge a man not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character.

— Dave Naumann

Monument

Reopen the trail

I am writing to voice my discontent with the current Santa Fe Trail situation through the Air Force Academy. The trail, which is on the very outskirts of the USAFA property, has been held hostage for half the summer now. Meanwhile, they allow visitors to drive cars onto the base to the Visitor Center, where they can presumably spend money, or to the Stables, where they can also spend money? Both activities certainly pose much more of an open threat to the Academy grounds and personnel than someone walking or riding a bicycle in from their eastern property border. There is also the secondary issue that the Academy did not pay to build or maintain the SF Trail — we did. And now it will be falling into disrepair with the current weather patterns, jeopardizing its future usage when their silly game is over. It is time to open this back to the public.

— Steve Swart

Colorado Springs

This deal works

Congratulations to Secretary John Kerry and the international negotiators for successfully concluding a diplomatic agreement over many years with Iran. The alternative to war-making was not well received by American conservative politicians who have been the recipients of large donations from AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee].

So it is not surprising that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu had the audacity to condemn the diplomatic document minutes after its passage on American TV, always open to him, on a moment's notice.

He predicts Iran will cheat and illegally build a bomb anyway. He gets his confidence from a little-known event — Israel did just that in the early '60s, when it smuggled atomic materials out of the U.S. and France, established a place at Dimona in the Negev to make bombs and when the Americans asked to inspect it they were told it was for a different use and shown a bogus location. They have had illegal nukes since then, denied their ownership, imprisoned an Israeli citizen/scientist who blew the whistle, and have refused to abide by international treaties, which other nations are obligated to do.

Fortunately, we have an international agreement with Iran but no one does with Israel.

— Bill Durland

Colorado Springs

Old and in the way

In a short article it was stated that local "young professionals" were disappointed by election results in that too many white males over 60 were elected. We have the who, what, when, but where is "why"? I suspect that the piece was fabricated if it would leave out the obvious question, that being there is nobody to really ask. If I am wrong then do tell; why is white male over 60 a disappointment? The only group not protected by a "be nice to" law. I know "black male over 60" would never see print as it would be deemed racist and bigoted. Actually the original printed statement is racist and bigoted, as well as too ignorant and obtuse to even bother printing.

So shamefully I must admit that I am white, male and over 60. I am not guilty of having been elected to anything, my saving grace, so that "young professionals" may feel a little better, whoever they are. My view is of no import to anyone obviously. Sixty years has taught me little and your motto "celebrate diversity" has a strict list of requirements. I will assume that "young professionals" are about 10 years old which is young.

Their profession? It did not say what that was either. So about an hour of my life is wasted on this. You owe me.

— Robert Wyman

Colorado Springs

Opportunity abounds

It seems that Amanda Udis-Kessler was none too pleased with my letter on "microaggressions" and my defense of this country ("Living with choices," Letters, July 15). She seemed especially bothered by my characterization of this country as the land of opportunity. She decries that this has not been the land of opportunity for Native Americans and blacks. Here is some evidence that it is for both groups.

Cheerleaders for this country, like myself, tend to be conservative. A look at census data shows that four of the five states with the highest percentage of Native Americans (Alaska, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Montana) tend to be moderately to strongly conservative. That indicates a degree of agreement with my point of view. Black median family income stands at $40,946 according to blackdemographics.com. A quick Internet search revealed no country with a significant black population where median family income was higher. The real indicator of America as the land of opportunity is migration patterns. I believe that most people, regardless of race, have a good sense of their own needs and what is good for them. If Ms. Udis-Kessler was right, then we'd see a flood of Native Americans and black Americans fighting to escape this country and go someplace better for them. I have not noticed that.

Ms. Udis-Kessler speculates I am white and male. She is correct.

If she has a problem with that, I'll leave it to her to marinate in her own racism. God bless America, the Land of Opportunity!

— John Howell

Colorado Springs

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